American and Canadian university life
There is more to life on campus than studying and passing exams. You will develop as an individual, gain insights into your core beliefs, develop interests in sports and arts, and make lifelong contacts and business networks. Canadian and US universities have active student societies, clubs and sports teams for players of all abilities to help you reach your true potential.
Find out what to expect at a university in the USA and Canada:
Your food purchase options
|Where you live||How you buy food|
|University accommodation||You will usually be required to pay for a university meal plan|
|Private accommodation||You can choose whether you purchase a meal plan or not|
|Homestay accommodation||Meals will be provided for you, and are included in the Homestay cost|
University meal plans
A University meal plan is a pre-payment plan for eating in the university dining halls and other on-campus food outlets.
Meal plans typically allow you to have a:
- specific number of full meals each semester - at least one full meal every day in the main dining hall.
- set amount of extra 'dining dollars' each semester that you can spend flexibly, at all campus catering facilities.
University food venues and choices
Almost all university dining halls are run as self-service cafeterias or food courts, so you can choose your own meals. In addition to the main campus dining venue, you will also find smaller cafes, snack bars, coffee shops, express kiosks and vending machines.
The type of food on offer varies each day, and there will be healthy options available. Typical food served at North American universities includes a wide variety of hot meals, burgers, pizza, sandwiches, baked potatoes, soups, salads, and desserts.
Most USA and Canadian universities will also be able to cater for kosher, halal, and vegetarian diets.
Specialty and international food
There are many shops and restaurants in the USA and Canada which sell specialty foods. You may also find that the larger supermarkets stock some of the products that you prefer. Ask the university's International Student Advisor to help you locate these specialty stores.
Health Centers at each university offer general medical care. Students living on campus can register with the Health Center and then see the doctor or nurse by making an appointment. You should familiarize yourself with the requirements and process before you schedule an appointment. All our students have separate personal health insurance coverage.
All universities and colleges have a Student Services department, usually with a student center offering a range of services such as sports and fitness facilities, a bookshop, games rooms, lounges where you can relax between class, and social programming. Support offered may include personal counseling, career development, and student welfare. All the universities we work with also have international offices where helpful staff can address your personal needs as an international student.
In America and Canada, religious freedom is absolute, so you may practice your faith wherever and however you choose. Most US and Canadian universities have a chapel or campus ministry where you can spend time in quiet reflection and prayer. These facilities are generally interfaith and welcome people of all religious and spiritual backgrounds.
Sporting activities play a major role in Canadian universities and American universities. Even if you do not take part, regular American football, basketball or baseball games are important social events on campus. Your university may offer a wide variety of other sports, including volleyball, soccer, swimming and tennis.
There are three main ways to participate in sports at North American universities:
- Intercollegiate: top student athletic 'varsity' teams compete against teams from other universities within three divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). These are principal university events that you may often see on television.
- Intramural: sports teams compete against other teams at the same university. Intramural games and matches are competitive but less formal than intercollegiate ones.
- Recreational: activities and games played for fun and fitness.
If you excel at a particular sport, please let us know as this can often be an important factor to help with your application.
Student clubs and organizations
Take the opportunity to join student clubs and organizations at Canadian and US universities. Clubs offer many different activities - some are academically-focused and others are purely social. Many universities have clubs that focus on international cultures. Joining a club is a fantastic way to meet other students who have similar interests. It is recommended that you join no more than 2 or 3 clubs, so as to not lose focus on your studies. Whether you like playing a musical instrument, outdoor adventure, or debating current events, you will most likely find a club for you.
Your university or college in North America may host plays, art exhibitions, dance performances, live music, debates, town hall meetings, and other cultural activities on campus. Attending events like these are another way to truly experience Canadian and American life and culture, and have a great time!
Many US universities offer fraternities (for men) and sororities (for women). These organizations are named after Greek letters, and are made up of students who share common goals, socialize together and get involved in community activity and charity events. They are a great way to make lifelong friends with American students and get actively involved on your campus.